February 26th, 2006

Tori's Rat

Straining Your Friends Page

Rereading Mike Nelson's latest blog post this morning, I clicked on his link to an article on H.R. Pufnstuf. I think this is my first exposure to the . . . phenomenon? I don't know why, but for some reason the screenshots of the titular dragon make me nauseous. Maybe it's the faded colours, or the fact that he looks like a bloated, jaundiced corpse with mould tears.

Or perhaps it's that I just returned from a long walk in the hot sun, during which I ate a Subway sandwich and drank a hot caffe latte. Swiss cheese, mayo, and avocado followed by steamed milk, all under the hot San Diego sun. Yum.

I've been too busy with Boschen and Nesuko to get the brakes fixed on my car, so I've been walking to lunch on those days where I absolutely had to get out. Last week, it caused me to make two completely unplanned DVD purchases, one insanely cheap, the other a bit more than I probably ought to have spent.

On the first occasion, I'd been wandering over some considerable distance trying to make up my mind on where to have lunch. I finally settled on Tacos Mi Pueblo, for their wondrously hazardous hot sauce. When I got there, the place was very crowded, so I was forced to eat outside, alone on a cement bench in the cold wind. Combined with the hot sauce, my nose soon became very runny, though I was proud of the fact that no napkin or tortilla chip had been snatched by the air currents threatening to take my hat.

So I afterwards quickly darted into the nearby Big!Lots in order to blow my nose. I marvelled again at the store's perpetually ravaged shelves--I used to work there, you know, and my job consisted entirely of straightening merchandise on the shelves. That's it, that's all I did--but it was disgracefully time-consuming. I mean, when I worked at Rite Aid, straightening shelves, or "recovery," was something cashiers did at the end of the day. But something about Big!Lots makes customers feel entitled to tear and molest things that don't belong to them.

Anyway, in the paper and plastic carnage, I spotted a bin of two-dollar DVDs, one of which, incredibly, featured both Charlie Chaplin's The Kid and Buster Keaton's The General. I think I mostly bought it on principle, because both movies really are worth more than two dollars.

The DVD had this on the cover;

I'm not sure what that's meant to convey. But as much as I like the Keaton and Chaplin movies, it wouldn't surprise me if some kid somewhere is rather angry at his parent for bringing this home in lieu of Pokemon or Harry Potter.

The other DVD I got was Tori Amos' new video collection, Fade to Red. Twenty bucks, which is really much more than I'm usually willing to spend on a non-Criterion DVD, but standing there in the Wal-Mart and reading on the back that it has commentary from Amos, my knees melted, and I knew it was written that I should purchase the thing. Every time I wonder at the helpless devotion Oprah Winfrey fans display for their goddess, I ought to look back to that moment, and know that I am hardly above such things.

Of course I was dismayed upon putting the DVD in my computer to find that audio wasn't working. I tried other DVDs, and found that it was only the Amos DVD not giving sound. Apparently it was recorded in some funky format, but fortunately, earlier in the week Tim had given me a link to this site, which provides a video player with some very handy codecs, which I'd needed to watch the bootleg Top o Nerae 2 files he'd given me. That I should need such a thing for a store-bought DVD seems rather silly, but whatever; it works now and I'm happy.

I guess I mainly bought the thing for the commentary, as all the best videos were already on a VHS collection I have. They're not in chronological order, so the inferiority of the newer videos seems particularly sad. It's reflected in the commentary, as Tori discusses meaning and song writing motivation for her older videos, while for her newer ones, she discusses technical details and the credentials of her collaborators. As I was saying to Trisa on the phone a couple days ago, Tori has become the George Lucas of the music industry.

I've been testing that analogy in my mind, finding all sorts of parallels--they both dig Joseph Campbell, both weave classic mythology into their works, and both seem to have become generally more interested in the technical and superficial aesthetic aspects of their productions.

But I truly loved seeing those old videos again. The video for God was particularly refreshing, in its unabashed, mischievous poke at religion. They don't make videos like that anymore, do they? Can you imagine such a thing in our current climate? Oh, Tori, I miss you.
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